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Reflections on TAM 7 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Michael Strieb   
Tuesday, 21 July 2009 00:00

mikerandiFor several months now, this webpage has been headed by a banner advertising TAM 7. As a member of the JREF forum, I had been following the excitement surrounding the event for some time. I followed much more closely when I learned I was the fortunate recipient of a scholarship and would be attending myself.

I arrived on Thursday not quite sure what to expect. I knew I'd be overwhelmed. But I thought what would overwhelm me was going to be the experience of being in the presence of celebrities. That's what we're led to believe, that famous people are awe-inspiring. I met so many of them. I had my picture taken with Banacheck, Mac King, Penn, Phil Plait, Jamy Ian Swiss, Teller, the Great Tomsini, Captain Disillusion, and of course Randi, whom I had the pleasure of sitting next to during the entire magic show. As amazingly cool as all of that was, though, it's not what really astounded me. What has really touched my heart, what overwhelmed me, is the kindness of simple, ordinary people.

To put the significance of this into context, I need to give you some of my background. I have ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It has left me (more or less) wheelchair bound, with excessive weakness in my hands and arms. As if that weren't enough, it has also left me with a severe speaking disability. This makes daily living difficult, to say the least. The prospect of a 2,500 mile trip by myself was daunting, and seemed to court disaster. Well, disaster was not only averted, it never had a chance.

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Multiple Failures - Does No One Care? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Monday, 20 July 2009 00:00

A couple of weeks ago, I reported on Zicam and how it was NOT a homeopathic drug but claimed to be one so as to gain the marketing boost that the label unfortunately provides as well as to fall under a special class in the FDA wherein the "drug" receives less scrutiny. This lack of scrutiny allowed this dangerous substance that has caused 900 people to lose their sense of smell to reach market.

Today, I found this Bloomberg article reporting that the FDA admits the homeopathy label let this product slip by:

Zicam’s homeopathic label allowed it to be marketed for a decade without a review for safety or effectiveness by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The article then goes on to say:

Homeopathic products -- over-the-counter remedies that use plant, mineral or animal derivatives -- don’t need marketing clearance from the FDA under U.S. rules.

And therein, lies the problem. Bloomberg has it completely WRONG.

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The Real Meaning of Crop Circles: Vandalism PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Sunday, 19 July 2009 00:00

cropgraffitiReader John calls our attention to a recent article in The Mail in which curious sightseers investigating a crop circle saw something unexpected flying overhead: shotgun fire. The report is a bit confused, but it seems that a farmer, one of his cousins, or a hired hand fired a shotgun over the heads of a group of Norwegian tourists who had come to see a recent crop circle.

Why do such a thing? Simple, he says. He was defending his property.

One onlooker was surprised to come under fire:

I have been visiting crop circles for a decade and have in various ways been told that we are not welcome, but this is the first time I have been threatened with a gun.

Farmers have the right to protect their land, but they have no legal right to threaten people. It was totally unnecessary and incredibly scary.

So, let me get this straight... she knows she's not welcome, and admits that famers have a right to protect their land, but these realizations aren't enough for her to stop trampling people's crops. Got it.

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Connie Sonne Preliminary Challenge Test at TAM 7 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   
Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00

At the Amaz!ng Meeting 7, we conducted a Preliminary Challenge Test for the JREF million-dollar prize - the first time we've ever done this in front of a live audience. It was done with total transparency.  We invited all TAMgoers, as well as media representatives and famous skeptics and magicians, to attend a preliminary Challenge test of Ms. Connie Sonne.

For those who weren't able to attend in person, we streamed the test live so those at home could watch from their computers. We had six hundred people watching from the audience, and 1,600 watching from home. The in-person audience included people like Penn and Teller, Mac King, Jamy Ian Swiss, Dr. Joe Albietz, and, of course, Randi. The video was viewed by people from all over the world, just as it happened in real time.

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A bleesed (?) event at TAM 7 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   
Saturday, 18 July 2009 00:00

We see a lot of, well, amazing things at The Amaz!ng Meeting, but I think TAM 7 topped them all.

Our friends at The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe (the official JREF podcast) recorded their podcast live in front of the audience at TAM 7 before the official festivities started. During the usual Q&A session, Sid Rodrigues stood up and, in front of nearly 1000 attendees, asked Rebecca Watson to marry him.

Did she say "yes"? Watch the video and find out!

Yes, that's Mythbuster Adam Savage as the ring bearer, and JREF's Director of Operations A B Kovacs officiating. Another video is on YouTube taken from a different angle.

Our heartiest congratulations to the newlyweds! And it just goes to show you, skeptics fall in love too.

 
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